How A 10% Switch Could Change America

Feb 15, 2012 | Culture/Society

“For you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”  Those are probably the most famous words ever spoken on the subject of truth…


eleven million book TagAbove, many of you will recognize the first two sentences in my newest book, How Do You Kill 11 Million People?.  For those of you with whom I correspond on, Facebook, or Twitter, I wanted to give you some background on how this book came to be and what I am hoping for with its release.

For years, I have worked with companies (see client list here), teams, and organizations on better ways to communicate their ideas to other people.  NOT surprisingly, we have proven again and again that nothing resonates like the truth.

While the United States of America is not a client per se, the passing years have made me ever more anxious about its continued success.  It is worrisome to me that, as a historian of sorts and a speaker of some record, my two selves seem to tug in opposite directions.  While the speaker urges audiences to understand that history does not control one’s destiny—the historian points incredulously to how often we allow history to repeat itself!  Unfortunately, both assertions are true.

In this time of so much uncertainty, the fact that our United States is the longest tenured government in the world seems to hover over us like an increasingly heavy shadow hanging by a thread.  

It is somewhat ironic that How Do You Kill 11 Million People? is now being compared to Common Sense, another small book that was written more than two hundred years ago by Thomas Paine.  For it was actually another book by the American patriot that inspired me… 

Thomas Paineoval TagOn December 23, 1776, Paine wrote a lesser-known book entitled The Crisis.  It was from the first line of this work that you remember the words, “These are the times that try men’s souls…”  But it was later in the text when Paine recorded the thought that I could not forget.  “If there must be trouble,” he wrote, “let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

Like many of you, I am a parent, and know well the feelings of joy and hope (mingled with occasional desperation) that children can cause to well up in our spirits.  I do know, however, as you surely do also, that my hope for their future must be accompanied by at least some amount of action.  If we are to provide for our children the future our founding fathers intended, then, in the words of Jean-Luc Picard, we must “make it so!”

My own first attempt to “make it so” is How Do You Kill 11 Million People?.  I wanted to create something people could use to influence their friends and family.  I wanted something quick and easy to read.  It needed to be inexpensive so that folks could afford several books to use as gifts.  It needed a catchy, curious title so that the person receiving the book would actually read it immediately when urged to do so by the giver.

Did you know…?  During the past 25 years, there has not been a single presidential election that was won by more than 10 million votes.  They have all been just that close.  Yet, during the past 25 years, there has not been a single presidential election in which fewer than 100 million people of voting age did not vote.  Of that 100 million, 65 million identify themselves as Christians.

Wait!  That’s not necessarily bad news.  Right now…at this very moment…it could actually be GOOD NEWS!  How is that possible, you ask?  Think with me here…

If you’ve already read How Do You Kill 11 Million People? you know exactly how only 10% of the German population in the late 1930s managed to highjack that entire country and hurl it into a nightmare.  So let me ask…if only 10% of that population could do so much damage, can’t 10% of OUR present population do an equal amount of good?

An old man named Jones once told me, “If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, then you’re doing something wrong.  ‘Cause everybody ain’t making it.  If you’re doing what everybody else is doing, you’re only contributing to the average.  Do you want average results?  Of course not!  So whatever you do…don’t do what everybody else is doing.”  I believe the old man was right.

American Flag TagOkay then, in regard to the direction of our country, what is everyone doing?  Arguing.  Arguing, bickering, shouting, deriding, mocking, disparaging, and attempting to humiliate “the other side” at every turn.

So who is “the other side”?  “The other side” seems to be anyone who doesn’t see it “their” way.  You want to talk about “what everybody is doing” and how that doesn’t work?  As far as I know, Republicans and Democrats have been yelling at each other for years and I don’t know if any one of them has changed anyone’s mind.  Ever.  And in the middle of the fight sit 100 million people of voting age who are so aggravated by the actions of both sides that they don’t even bother to vote!

Well, one might ask, what are we supposed to do?  How can we change things?  How can we engage those who have checked out?

We must understand what many do not.  You see, the very essence of INFLUENCE is AGREEMENT.  Not yelling.  Not threatening.  AGREEMENT.

Anytime we directly confront what someone believes, it is a waste of time.  In fact, by arguing about what their daddy told them or disputing what they heard on television the night before, we are more likely to allow them to strengthen their viewpoint.  But if we can find ONE LITTLE THING upon which we agree, we can move forward from there.

What in the world would everyone agree on?  That’s easy.  In fact, it is so easy that I missed it for years.  For five years, I asked the question, “Can I write something that never says Democrat or Republican…never says Conservative or Liberal…yet every single person who reads it would agree with the conclusion?”  The answer turned out to be YES!

You see, we all agree that we should be told THE TRUTH.  Walk outside today and ask any person you meet, “Is it okay for politicians to lie?  Or should they tell the truth?”  No matter the age, color, gender, or income bracket, every single person you meet will choose, “The truth!”

So here’s the trick: If none of us wants to be lied to…and if we are certain that we know the truth…then we don’t need to yell at anyone.  And we should have no problem easing people into a search for “the truth” with gentle influence.  Because when they arrive at the truth—assuming that you have already found it—you’ll be standing together, not apart.   

Frankly, this is the very reason I created this cheap little book.  I wanted people to have something they could use as a gift and as a basis of agreement between friends and family members with whom they have rarely agreed on anything.

I am encouraged that so many of you are already doing this.  I am hearing stories every day from those of you who are getting multiple copies and using them to connect with others who might not know what to do.

I am also excited about my entertainer/speaker/singer friends who are using the book and talking about it on Facebook and Twitter.  Some, like Charlotte Ritchie from the Gaither Homecoming Series, are actually holding up the book and talking about it in their concerts.  Comedian Jeff Allen, who recently sold out 2,700 seats in Minneapolis, is not only talking about the book and its concept in his shows, he bought several hundred copies and is giving them to people he meets while traveling.

So thanks to you all!  You, my friends on Facebook, Twitter, and are appreciated more than you will ever know.  If you wish and feel led to do so, please feel free to email this letter to your own lists and post it wherever you have a presence. 

It is time to get going.  There IS something we can do.  There is more that we can become.  We are in this together and I am excited to be a part of your team.  And I can’t wait to see the difference you make as you begin to influence the United States… still, so far, our “one nation under God.”


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